Metalsmith's Resources Worldwide Database

Arizona Designer Craftsmen 23645 N. 83rd Place
Associan Mexicana de Esmaltistas A.C. Plateros #37 Col. San Jos Lane DF 03900 MEXICO
Baulines Craft Guild PO Box 150158 San Rafael CA 94915
California Blacksmith Association P.O. Box 997 San Jacinto CA 92581
Camden Goldsmiths Association 20 Main Street Camden ME 04843
Canadian Enamellists‘ s Association 229 Younge Street Suite #404 Toronto ON M5B 1N9 CANADA
Centre de L’Art de L‘Esmalt Ciutat de Balaguer, 17 Llotja Barcelona 08022 SPAIN
Chicago Metal Arts Guild
Colorado Metalsmithing Association P.O. Box 261898 Littleton CO 80163
Craft Iowa 2501 33rd Street Des Moines IA 50310
Craft League of Urbana-Champaign 512 West Nevada Urbana IL 61801
Creative Metal Arts Guild P.O. Box 8946 Portland OR 97207
Deutches Goldschmiedehaus Alstadter Markt 6 Hanau D-63450 GERMANY
Enamel Guild East 383 Littleworth Lane Sea Cliff NY 11757
Enamel Guild South 19601 N.E 24th Avenue Miami Beach FL 33180
Enamel Guild West 6461 Dwane Avenue San Diego CA 92120
Enamelist Society 6105 Bay Hill Circle Jamesville NY 13078
Florida Society of Goldsmiths 719 Central Ave St. Petersburg FL 33701
Form-I-DABLE Frazosische Allee 16 Hanau D-6450 GERMANY
Georgia Goldsmiths' Group PO Box 52125 Atlanta GA 30306
Guild of Eugene Metalsmiths 20 West 31st Street Eugene OR 97405
Houston Metal Arts Guild P.O. Box 270452 Houston TX 77277
Japan Enamel Art Association 6F-A Asakawa Building 1-19-13 Hyakunin-Cho 169 JAPAN
Jewellers & Metalsmith Group of Australia - New South Wales (JMGA-NSW) PO Box 340 Pyrmont NSW 2009 AUSTRALIA
Kansas Artist Craftsmen Association 8201 E. Harry #2102 Wichita KS 67207
KUNSTERVEREIN Hans-Holbein-Weg 10 Coburg 96450 GERMANY
Long Island Craft Guild 56 William Street Copiague NY 11726
Louisville Artisans Guild
Maine Crafts Association PO Box 228 Deer Isle ME 04627
Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild 1815 Metropolitan Street Pittsburgh PA 15233
Massachusetts Metals Guild 15 Cogswell Avenue Cambridge MA 02140
Metal Arts Association of Silicon Valley P.O. Box 2924 Cupertino CA 95015
Metal Arts Guild P.O. Box 590785 San Francisco CA 94159
Metal Arts Society of Southern California 1644 So. Clementine St. Anaheim CA 92802
Metal Link North 2753 East Broadway Suite 101, 156 Mesa AZ 85204
Metal Link North 1902 S. Main Street Seattle WA 98144
Metal Link South 218 West Knox Drive Tuscon AZ 85705
Metalmorphosis 2704 Alan Street Ft Collins CO 80524
Metalsmiths Association PO Box 527 Clyde NC 28721
Metalsmiths of Door County 1848 Highway ZZ Sister Bay WI 54234
Metalwork Guild of S. Maine and New Hampshire 16 Vaughn‘s Lane So. Berwick ME 03908
Michigan Silversmiths Guild 4081 Clark Road Ann Arbor MI 48105
Minnesota Metalsmiths Guild 1980 Quasar Avenue St. Croix Beach MN 55001
Monterey Bay Metal Arts Guild P.O. Box 51511 Pacific Grove CA 93950
Timestamp NAME Address Alternate or Shipping Address State Postal or Zip Code Country Email Website To be Added Comments,Instructions Etc.:
Name Address City State Zip Country Email Website
National Enamellist Guild 9024 Beatty Drive Alexandria VA 22308
North Carolina Society of Goldsmiths P.O. Box 196 Pittsboro NC 27312
North Texas Enamel Guild 1311 West Abram Arlington TX 76013
Northern California Enamel Guild P.O Box 254 El Cerrito CA 94530
Northern California Enamel Guild P.O. Box 254 Emeryville CA 94530
Northwest Enamellists Guild PO Box 230-416 Tigard OR 97281
Ohio Designer Craftsmen 1665 W. 5th Avenue Columbus OH 43212
Oklahoma Guild of Metalsmiths 2124 Belleview Dr. Oklahoma City OK 73112
Out of Hand 411 Twelfth Street Eureka CA 95501
Palm Beach Enamel Guild 867 Lakeside Drive North Palm Beach FL 33408
Pennsylvania Society of Goldsmiths
Philadelphia Alternative Metals Society 10173 Bridle Road #1 Philadelphia PA 19116
Pittsburgh Metals Society PO Box 42381 Pittsburgh PA 15203
Precious Metal Clay Guild 1921 Cliffview Lane Florence KY 41042
Richmond Art Center 25th and Barrett Avenue CA 94804
Seattle Metals Guild 1425 Broadway #154 WA 98122
Society for Midwest Metalsmiths PO Box 31314 St Louis MO 63131
Society of American Silversmiths PO Box 72839 Providence RI 02907
Society of Dutch Enamellers De Galop 15 Dronten 8252 NETHERLANDS
Society of Louisiana Artists in Metal PO Box 850694 New Orleans LA 70175
South Florida Jewelry Arts Guild
Southern Highlands Craft Guild PO Box 9545 Asheville NC 28815
Southwestern Virginia Metal Arts Guild 617 6th Street, SW Roanoke VA 24016
Spokane Jewellers Guild 6312 S. Nola Ct. Spokane WA 99223
The British Society of Enamellers 30 Kensington Square London W8 5SD ENGLAND
The Guild of Metalsmiths P.O. Box 11423 Saint Paul MN 55111
The International Guild of Wire Jewelry Artists, Inc.
The Metal Arts Guild of Canada P.O. Box 241, Station C Toronto ON M6J 3P4 CANADA
Washington Guild of Goldsmiths Washington DC
Western Canadian Blacksmiths Guild 14707-115th St Edmonton AB T5X 1H7 CANADA

Resin Dipped Flowers How-to

I suppose you found me from viewing my Jewelry blog.or, or http:// www.JewelersStudioIn the, or I must clear up my blogs and websites links!! Anyway
Well the main thing to remember is to ensure that the flowers are completely dry. any moisture inside the petals will turn the whole thing black and moldy within a few weeks - particularly in summer. If its a flower, best to use a waxy petaled variety like tuberose,gardenia, orchis species, roses, or any other thickly petaled variety- you can also go for dry petaled flowers like amaranthus sp., and zinias, gerberas, etc. I guess I should make a list as I have received many inquiries to resin dipped flowers lately- must be because Fire Mountain sells machine produces ones cheaply- or rather they are cheaply produces where they grow the flowers and marked up really outrageously by Fire Mountain and Rio Grande and other beader's supply stores on line and off!.
You can do your own resin dipping in clear-cast- available at most hobby or craft stores and remember to buy both the resin ( in a metal can)_ and the catalyst in a small plastic bottle- one won't work without the other. You should also assemble some wooden skewers, blotter paper 9 otr thick paper toweling, some acetone,and mixing cups that are disposable, a length of cord,twine or mono filament and clips from which to hang the dipped flowers and some nitrile gloves in case the gunk gets on your hands..many people react adversely to it); once you have all the equipment set up mix the resin according to directions, and CAREFULLY dip the flowers into the mixture-YOU WANT TO GO STRAIGHT DOWN AND DO NOT CREATE BUBBLES IN THE RESIN- so a bamboo skewer can be used to attach the flower at the calyx end ( stem end) and then let it rise naturally ( release the skewer and let it float to the top of your container that is at least as deep as the flower is wide and allow about 1 inch extra for each flower you want to dip. After fully curing - sometimes overnight, you may re dip if the coating is not thick enough on each piece. ensure that it is completely sealed.

Now for the colour retention part:
glycerine can be used to retain the shape and colour of botanicals however the botanicals must have a stem with which to soak up the glycerine and a bit of water( if you want autumn leaves for instance, you may add water soluble food colourant to the water to enhance the plant material's colour- just add a small amount and when the water is the colour you want add the glycerine 10 parts to 2 parts water..then allow the plant to soak up the glycerine.It will feel leathery to the touch and be preserved forever at that texture and colour, then dipping is easy as its cells are already "sealed" and the resin will cure slightly faster as no water has to evaporate or move through the resin ( in the form of O2) to completely cure in a humid area-as some people that live in the gulf south , or places in the Uk, and Europe that are not artificially air-conditioned do have humidity to deal with.If you live in the air conditioning or dehumidified environs, then it's less of an issue and curing is faster. Ther are some high priced resins that require UV light to cure - avoid them they aren't worht the expense unless you are to produce flowers commercially in which case I could recommend an entire equipment list but note that the cost will be about 15,000 dollars total to produce a commercially viable lot regularly once buyers are in place and the flowers sourced.I suspect you are writing for home use though and in that case, the "Clear-Cast brand " is sufficient for casting anything- just make sure you have ventilated work space a deep enough container for the material you are dipping as yu have to work rather fast, but carefully so as to avoid bubbles and the batch from setting up which is why I recommended only the depth of the flower's width plus an inch for the container- you can always trim a paper cup ( waxed paper) or plastic cup to the size needed and then have a mould ready to "embed something " with the unused portion that has been mixed up- anything can be embedded from artists tags, to pendants, to paper weights- you know the size of the materials you are to use.
Hope this helps, and please write again if you need clarification.
,best Regards,Dr.Ari Roark

ADDING Elements TO A Ring

Subject: Adding accents to an existing ring
Question: I have a platinum engagement ring with a .85 carat diamond. Its design is very plain with no accents. For our 5th anniversary coming up, we would like to get accents added to the ring, perhaps accent diamonds or some other gemstones. We spoke to a designer at a Designer event at a large chain jewelry store where we originally bought the ring. He told us that adding accents to an existing ring can't be done. But we suspect he just wanted us to buy one of his premade mountings. This verdict just doesn't make sense considering he was able to replace the 4-prong head with a 6-prong head. What say you?

Also if you can recommend a reputable, reasonably priced jeweler in the Raleigh/Durham Triangle area who is willing to work with us, we'd be much appreciative.

Answer: Hello Cynthia,
Quite right! AVOID CHAIN STORES! My best advice is to seek out the independant goldsmith or metalsmith ( of which I know many in the Raleigh Durham area!) not only will the work be beter, and not cookie cutter prong heads soldered onto x piece but you will realize the relationship that is made will allow you to save money have work guaranteed for life and of higher quality materials and artistic design than any chain- hands down.
Of course you can add on accents to any ring!- he may not have had a platinumsmith or anyone that works in platinum available to do that high temp work and guarantee the results wouldn't blow apart the stones he sold you originally ( most chains group stones of SI1-2 and I1-2 into the same lots to save money so that you are never really certain in smaller stones, what you're getting).
coloured gemstones and colured diamonds are trendy right now and can be added inexpensively- consider a flush mounting in that you need no setting, the stone is set into the band that rises just above the stone's table (top surface).It is a style that can be done easily by any metalsmith and does not add the risk of heat to blowing any stones as the jeweler just has to cut a seat for the stone and then burnish the metal around the stone's shape ( be it round, square, trillion, etc) to hold it firmly in place and protecting it from daily wear.
If you tell me which part of town you are in I can give you a few contacts so you can find the jeweler you are most comfortable with. You can contact me off this forum at so the worlds doesn't know your locale! Also if you have any preferences in location state that in the email too and I will contact the colleagues in Raleigh/Durham and help you get what you want done as quickly and easily as is possible. I really detest chain jewelry stores practices and deception- they cost the consumer far more than the worth of any pieces they sell and the quality is more often than not, misrepresented..Hate to say this but you come out better buying at a Wal-Mart than almost of the jewelry chains out there since the x mart buys in larger volume from the same vendors as the chain store..But to go as far as outright lying that any accents can't be added is a case for the Better Business Bureau - I get highly aggravated when lied to by someone that thinks you are on open wallet and uninformed..then there is your loyalty to that store that should have been incentive for them to value your request as opposed to just saying they can't work in platinum..which is likely the case..frustrating at the least, disappointing at best!
Nonetheless, there are many in your area that I'm certain can give you exactly what you desire at a reasonable price in a reasonable time of delivery from the design proofing time. I will look for your email, but do allow me a couple of days to get back to you if that's all right.


Category: Jewelry Making
Private: No View Published Answer
Subject: Jewelry making with 925 silver
Question: What is the difference between "Dead soft," "hard," and "half hard" when buying raw sheet silver? I know when buying solder, it refers to the firing temperature - is it the same with 20 gauge sheet silver? Or does it have something to do with the pliability?

Answer: hello Marsha,
actually the terms refer to temper of the metal and the amount or rqather the degree of compaction of the crystalline structure- Dead soft refers to annealed metal that is easiest to work- most metals are sold in dead soft or half hard temper- you can always request your materials be sent to you DS-I don't know of a single dealer that won't honour that request. If you buy half hard and are going to use the 20 g sheet for cutting out a backing plate to solder a bezel to that would be acceptable, however if more than one operation is to be carried out you would need to anneal to make bends, adjust prongs, etc as metal work hardens easily- particularly lower karat golds and sterling.Fine silver and high karat golds contain less (or no ) copper as in the case of golds 18 kt and upwards fine silver and very littlle copper per gram of fine gold so it is more forgiving in terms of workability and requires less annealing. Many jewelrs don't use fine silver arguing that it is too soft-I use exclusively fine silver and work harden pieces to a most durable finished piece- also using .999 silver means less chance of firescale since no copper is in the material and hence, no cupric oxides can build up-although it is a good practice to dip anything soldered in an antifirescale/ firecoat flux like Cupronil, by 4S labs ( i sell it as do many jewelry suppliers because it is one of the more consistent and to me most reliable formulas for silverwork on the market- and the manufacturer is a traditional native american silversmith that has been selling the product which is based on a Hopi traditional formula since the early 1970's)..that formula had been used by the hopi for many years before 3S began selling it.It has never failed as a dip to prevent firescale or a flux for all grades of solder and is the least toxic of any others available-though I do use batterns type flux when working 22kt or higher gold when there are more than three joins to be made in a particular element, Cupronil works best for an all purpose flux/firecoat and is handier than making ones own pripp's type flux/firecoat in one consistent product..
As for 20 gauge sheet,or any gauge you choose you get the maximum weight buying full hard as the crystals are fully compacted, but for practicality I personally buy everything dead soft to save time- the weight loss is negligible - if you look at a catalogue like Hoover and Strong's, they print the weight per foot or inch of various metals- looking at that may help illustrate the minute differences in weights in various tempers.
Solder flow points are not exacrtly the same- they simply indicate the point at which the compound flows having no relation to hard metal, or soft metal- hard solder is used to make the first in a series of soldering operations, medium to add onto that and easy to add finishing touches if necessary to silverwork..with gold particularly higher karats you can use hard up to three operations without it burning out the binders in the solder ( zinc oxides) that allowfor a clean join.
I recommend your reading Tim McCreight's The Complete Metalsmith for a really good background in both metal tempers and solder flow differences..there are a number of other authors as well that define it exceptionally well-Harold O'Connor's "Jewelers Bench Reference" is a particularly good source of info as is Hoover and Strong's refernce section in the back of their catalogues and on line.
O hope this helps clarify the differences in temper as to metals and flow points as to solder for you..

Sparex Alternative-Mixing Ph Down

Subject: mixing PH down for pickle
Question: how much ph down do i need to mix for my pickle?
Answer: Hello Lisa,
Ph down can be used much like Sparex brand, but the benefit is that it is without the filler the Krohn company adds that produces the brown goo ( from their use of a clay by-product from reclaimed waste) floating on the surface once heated.
For a general slow-cooker of 2.5 quarts capacity 1 -1 1/2 cups or about 8- 12 ounces of Ph down at a 93% or higher concentration of sodium bisulfite as indicated on the label under active ingredients to one gallon of water plus enough to bring the water level up to within 2 inches of the top -always adding acid to water- is usually enough for silver fine or sterling. For a larger cooker increase the Ph down by one quarter cup per half quart ( = two cups, or 16 ounces). Most often people use too much sodium bisulphite and the results are unpredictable- less is more in this case! one can always add more if the pieces come out of the pickle solution anything but "pickle white". A warm pickle solution is more effective than a room temperature mixture.
Using distilled water is better than tap water as the chlorine content in some city systems is too high for use as a pickle solution.Spring water from one's own gravity system is all right for use but occasionally the iron content in that water is high depending on where one lives.Knowing the water's components before mixing up the pickle is beneficial. If you have spring water, bringing it to a boil first cooling it down to about 110 degrees ( hot bath temp.) helps eliminate trace minerals like calcium, then pouring into the stoneware or glass insert in your pickle set-up.
If you have an empty bag (or can) of Sparex, you may cut out the mixing instructions and affix it to the container of Ph down as a guide for use. Sparex brand often dictates a slightly higher than is necessary amount of product be mixed up than is necessary to be effective.With that in mind, and knowing the size of your vessel use your best judgment to make a solution that fits your needs and the metal you most often work in. High karat gold ( 18 -22kt.) alloys require less Ph down than sterling, and nitric acid is better if you exclusively work in gold or platinum group metals.
Sodium bisulphite is fine, and far cheaper than Sparex ( the company that produces Sparex is not very nice to deal with either! In fact they are downright rude to most consumers that have had reason to call them over many years of hearing the same reports from colleagues inquiring about their product. So giving them less business is the only way to make the point of being a good consumer "heard" by Krohn industries it would seem!) with exactly the same outcome as a pickle solution. Good for you in choosing the best product for your money!
If there is ever anything else I can help you with feel free to contact me as is necessary. Do let me know if this produces the results you desire and your opinion after trying it in relation to your results with sparex or other formulas. I am always looking for people's experiences with an alternative to what the mainstream thinks is a hard and fast rule regarding jewelry making.

All Copyrights reserved- no part of this article may be used without the express written permission of the author

Is Silver Right For My Job?

Subject: Is sheet silver right for my job?
Question: I have a ring (see attached image) that I would like to duplicate, meaning I want to make rings and pendants just like it with other raw stones I have. I was going to buy sheet silver , form it to the bottom of the stone by folding it up along the sides and snipping it to the desired height, then I planned to just turn it over (so the silver side is facing upward) and blast all the silver with a torch so it kinda melts to the form of the stone. Is this even possible - am I totally wrong about my approach? It seems like it would work but I admittedly have no idea what I'm doing. If you have any suggestions on how to recreate this ring I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks so much!

Answer: Hello Lane,
Yes gonzo torch melting is the incorrect approach no matter how attractive it may seem!
What you need is bezel strip and sheet silver; bezel strip for the band setting and sheet or ring blanks for the band and the appropriate grade of solder, and if it is yellow gold you are going for as the setting, then 10kt yellow gold bezel strip could be used with a 10kt ring blank and repair solder or even yellow silver solder in hard temper.
I highly recommend your going to the library or bookstore and checking out Tim McCreight's "the Complete Metalsmith". Also there are a number of basic soldering videos on you tube, and that leads one to a number of links on basic forming.One thig I can tell you is the maker glued or applied resin to bond the clusters into the bezels.You can buy pre-made die struck oval bezels but their weight is too light, and a higher gauge of sheet would be more appropriate particularly if you don't want to use glue, epoxy or resin- which I do not recommend..also your base must be flat so a good dremel tool, flexshaft, or lap is required to flatten the bottom of the clusters.
It is far too long a process to explain in the time I have at the moment so If you give me a while and also email me back as a follow up question, he equipment you have I can give you a more detailed explanation of how to go about fabricating the rings, etc. without blasting the metal..and you'll need to coat anything you want to make with a fire coat of boric acid and methyl alcohol mixed to a cream-like consistency and a pickling solution of pool Ph down ( sodium bisulphite) or sparex ( a junk product widely available but far too expensive for the amount of filler included in it!).Do you have a saw, a bench, a torch ( a butane torch will do wonderfully for a few rings, no need to go out and buy a whole jewelers set up- a bernzomatic would be ideal- american scientific and surplus ( has them on sale right now for about $16 USD)..
Anyway I'll be looking for your reply and don't blast anything quite yet, you'll blow up the amethyst certainly and probably melt down the whole project..It shouldn't be a trial and error proposition as even silver hit $13.89 yesterday and gold an unreasonable 922.00 on most markets...



Each Year Jewelers Studio in the Woods has a Studio Sale that includes tools, consumables, stones, rough , safety and health equipment and discounted e-course registration. This year the annual sale begins MAY1 and will continue- ON LINE- through May 30,2011.
Our inventory of tools is huge and contains everything from rolling mills , hand tools and precious metals- but the most important sale item this year is custom mill products in your choice of coloured karated golds made to your specs 9 though the minimum order is approximately 7 grams ( based on the international troy weights and measurements system), it is enough to make a couple of heavy band rings or a nice sized sheet of material or length of wire, etc. to use for whatever design you can dream up
Our inventory of gemstones contains single faceted stones and cabochons as well as parcels and higher ticket gems : coloured diamonds in the 2.5-half carat range, and brilliant white round diamonds in one carat and up to 3 carat stones sold wholesale to independent metalsmiths , jewelers and hobbyists. the list is far too large to post in this jotting but do look for a catalogue on the site in the next few weeks. If you require any thing before the catalogue is published please contact us with your requests and we will respond with the photos and prices.

Our courses are almost full in all subjects but basic silver and gold work has three spots each for the summer session and 10 spots are available for the online courses. Our on line courses match individuals with one instructor that works with that student for the duration of each course and shares a whiteboard and video conferencing for demonstrations, help with problem solving regarding pieces, and for the equivalent of "testing"...though no grades are given and testing sounds like a pass/fail situation it is actually more to confirm that the student has grasped the process or practice in question before advancing to a more complex operation or one requiring proficiency in the step being taught at a given won't ever fail- some processes will just take some more time than others to grasp and mastery of anything takes a lifetime as in jewelry making or metalsmithing it is an ongoing process of learning an art and the sciences involved that never ends..
Our courses "on sale" are a flat rate . The on-line couirses however have a maximum allowable time a person may remain in each on-line course is limited to six months. If after 6 months you have not progressed you may opt to continue ( at a reduced fee for the course) or try another course equal to the level of skill offered in the first course you enrolled in. You may not "skip ahead" because if you, for instance, have not mastered soldering or collected the tools or equipment necessary to advance you will not be able to advance to a higher skill until that basic concept is without question part of your repertoire. Our courses at the center in the woods ( in Western North Carolina ) begin at $650.00 for a week long residential programme with room and board not included, and camping available nearby for a very low rate and meals offered through our center's kitchen.
On line courses are a flat $500.00 per course and can run as long as six months ( the maximum time allowable to complete any level) with one instructor. Some students have completed, for example silver 1 or 2 in as few as six weeks of approximately 20 hours work per week with an instructor and as many hours at home in the studio ( that we help you set-up) as is necessary to learn whichever subject enrolled in.. Though we are structured in our approach to the arts and sciences of teaching one jewelry making or metalsmithing,etc. we realize that some enter the classes for pleasure and to develop a hobby while others are enrolling with the dream of opening their own business.We match the students with the instructors based on the students goals and tailor each on-line course, to a degree, towards helping the student reach his or her goal. For that reason the amount of time one takes to complete each course or level of study in a given topic area varies by student and is accommodated as best we can by our staff and educators. We guarantee that you will receive a first rate education in whichever topic area you choose.


December 2003

Precious Metals/Metalsmithing

From Dust to Gold

Refiners can help you extract profits from scraps, not just cash in

Your store has valuable inventory scattered on the floor and dusted on desks throughout the entire repair area. Many jewelers actively use this source to generate cash or obtain newly refined gold or other precious metals. What is it?

We’re talking about scrap metal.

“All jewelers need to realize that scrap is like inventory and should be used the same way,” says Ralph Crowell, president of Glines & Rhodes, a refiner in Attleboro, RI.

Adds Hoover & Strong President Torry Hoover, “Scrap is cash, just sitting there on the shelf.”

“Retailers should treat these scraps with the importance they require,” says Alan Light, owner of Precious Metals & Gems, West Bloomfield, MI. “Instead of placing them somewhere out of sight, keep them in a jar or in a correct container in the safe.” This sends a message to the staff that gold from sweeps is inventory to be handled with care. It also underlines the critical nature of conducting thorough sweeps.

All refiners emphasize the importance of paying attention to scrap gold and metals. More critically, refiners are emphatic that your store regain the value of its scraps and sweeps and suggest that settling these is a financial matter store managers need to control.

Depending on the size of the retail operation, this source of inventory is used at some point, but many jewelers need to ensure it is being used efficiently, says Crowell.

Frequently, say refiners, this resource is left until the last minute or is used strictly as a cash machine. When gold prices are high, retailers often seek the immediate gratification pegged to the value of gold. If prices are low, scraps are left to increase, ostensibly awaiting higher market prices. However, many refiners suggest that gold is better used as a source to create new jewelry that can be sold at far greater profit than is earned from a sweeps-to-cash settlement.

“The goal is not how much you can collect, rather how you can efficiently manage it to get it back into the showcase to sell and make a higher margin,” says Light. “After all, if the retailers do well, we all do well.”

That’s where refining companies come in. As experts at the technical processes needed to extract karat gold (or silver or platinum) from your scrap metal, refiners also can help you manage the use of this sometimes overlooked resource.

Crowell says large chain stores actively manage their scrap metal and sweeps, sending their collected results to refiners perhaps every two months or even more often. Smaller retailers are less able to spare an employee for this duty on a regular basis and generally have fewer scraps. But these stores can place the task higher on the “to do” list during the year.

Use the Gold

Smaller manufacturing jewelers seem most likely to settle their scraps and sweeps for the cash, say refiners. This is a time-honored tradition that’s frequently necessary for myriad reasons. Many short-staffed, overworked store employees have little time to refabricate the gold they’ve already sent in from a sweep to a refiner.

For larger retailers, the scraps and sweeps are often a separate operation from the making and buying of jewelry, so they remain separate operations financially and logistically.

But this is changing slowly. As more independent retailers create custom jewelry, whether by contract or in-house, the urge to redeem scrap for cash lessens.

“The fastest-growing sector among the independent retailers we deal with are those with an on-staff jeweler,” says Daniel Ballard at Precious Metals West, a Los Angeles custom refiner and fabricator. While part of that increase may be due to the clientele his company seeks, recent surveys by Jewelers of America show more retailers are doing custom work and generally realizing greater profit margins from it than for many other items they sell. For this reason, a closer relationship with a refiner/fabricator and supplier is critical. While Ballard’s company and others make the cash settlement of sweeps a simple matter, he says, retailers often work with his company to manage gold in a more sophisticated – and often ultimately more profitable – manner.

“For instance, we’ll set up accounts with retailers whereby they leave their refined gold with us and retrieve it whenever they need it.” Frequently, these retailers later ask Ballard to create a specific alloy using the gold, often for custom pieces.

“This helps avoid double-purchases,” he says. Because the jeweler owns the gold already and is keeping it with Ballard, he or she won’t need to send it in a second time for the alloy or fabrication request.

Such fabrication requests occasionally become exotic. Ballard explains that over the past several years, requests for rose gold have risen, and he’s even received a few queries – largely from designer metalsmiths – for blue gold or purple gold.

Metals Source

Of course scrap settlement isn’t the sole contact jewelers have with refiners. Custom jewelers can work out casting services with many refiners, often for small numbers of pieces, particularly as CAD-CAM model-making becomes routine. Also, most refiners will sell various standard gold and silver alloys in a wide variety of products. Don’t forget solder, tubing, wire, brass, copper, zinc and a host of metals in between. New solders for use with platinum have received a good deal of attention recently. Others tout new formulations for white gold that eliminate or reduce nickel content. Numerous companies cater to independent retailers as well as chain stores and manufacturers. Contact the Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America, Providence, RI, at (401) 274-3840 for a variety of source materials.

Understand the Refining Process

Torry Hoover, president of Hoover & Strong, Richmond, VA, wants every retailer to understand the refining process. While jewelers know their diamonds, they aren’t always as confident about the differences between a floor sweep and a bench sweep.

He suggests jewelers be sure to weigh whatever they send to a refiner. Use a proper container and be sure to label each container with weight, contact data and type of sweep. He and other refiners generally request the floor sweeps be sent separately from bench sweeps for more efficient settlement.

Hoover’s company posts a quick guide to understanding its refining process on its Web site. Here’s an abridged version:

1. Arrival. When scrap shipments arrive, they are weighed twice and the amount is checked against the weight stated by the sender. If there’s a discrepancy between the weights, the sender is called before the refining process continues. The refining coordinator records a description of the scrap, estimates weight loss due to non-metallic material and produces a karat estimate.

2. Smelting. In the smelting department, clean scrap (bench sweeps and filings, for example) is mixed with a special flux and melted. The flux makes the melt more fluid and homogeneous. It’s then poured into a mold. The metal settles to the bottom, and the slag created by the flux remains on top, taking some of the nonmetallic impurities with it. After smelting, the bars go back to the vault to be weighed and sampled. The bullion remains in the vault until the retailer has been paid for the scrap.

3. Assaying. After the bullion is weighed, drill samples are taken from each end of the bullion. This sample is fire-assayed in duplicate to determine the precious metal content of the refining shipment. The assay lab does a miniature refining process on multiple samples to determine the precious metal content. The bullion karatage is actually determined by the percentage of fine gold remaining following the assay process. The results of the assays must agree. If they don’t the bar is remelted to ensure it’s homogenous, then resampled and reassayed.

4. Floor Sweeps. These require more involved processing than clean scrap. It’s impractical to melt down a sweep because of its large volume and low-grade gold content. The sweep is burned at a low heat to incinerate the combustible material. Then it’s milled into a fine powder and sifted. By producing a fine blended powder, the sweep is made homogeneous. A representative sample is taken and assayed to determine fine gold content.

5. Refining to Fine Gold. After assaying, the value of the scrap shipment is determined and the customer is paid. The material then is ready to be refined to its precious metal components. Hoover & Strong gold is refined in a two-step electrolytic process. Bullions are combined with silver and cast into anodes. The anodes are placed in a silver-based electrolyte, and the silver and most base metals are removed. The residual material is melted again into anodes and submerged in a gold-based solution. The gold is plated onto the cathode as fine gold or 24k gold; platinum and palladium remain in the solution where they are later recovered chemically.

– by Michael Thompson

To see refining and manufacturing in action, go to Precious Metals West/Fine Gold’s Web videos for broadband users at

Refining services, demonstrated here in a photo from Hoover & Strong, give you a chance to offer money back for customers’ precious metal jewelry.
The aqua regia process for refining gold uses strong acids to dissolve gold into soluble gold chloride. Pictured here, a technician at Precious Metals West in Los Angeles filters the yellow-green solution to remove various insoluble and non-metallic materials. Eventually the gold that’s recovered will be placed in a crucible for melting and graining. Photo by Daniel & Donna Ballard.

Independent Analysis

Ensure your refiner is serving your best interests

Many jewelers are confident about their refiners. Still, as part of a scrap management process, some analyses of scrap and sweeps might reassure that you’re handling the process efficiently.

At the American Assay & Gemological Office, the New York City office of the Birmingham Assay Office in Great Britain, CEO John A. Politi Jr. says retailers frequently send AAG their sweep samples for analysis.

“We’ll provide an assay analysis, accounting for the gold, silver and platinum found in their sweeps,” he says. This offers retailers a level of comfort with the settlement they receive from refiners. About one-third of the samples his office receives are sweeps. He suggests retailers send his office a small sample of a sweep sent into the jeweler’s regular refiner. The retailer can compare the settlements and work with the refiner more effectively. Analysis, on average, costs $25-$50.

“Retailers increasingly realize they need to take a close look at their scrap management as an internal resource,” says Politi. Independent sampling raises the bar on the efficiency of the retail operation, he adds.

  • American Assay & Gemological Office, New York City; (212) 221-6565.

– by Michael Thompson